Conservatives: When it Comes to Eliminating the Individual Mandate, You Have No Idea What You’re Talking About

individual-mandateSince its inception, one of the main talking points against the Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare”) Republicans have used is the “evil” individual mandate.  They claim the individual mandate is big government run amok and it’ll destroy our health care industry.

Both claims, of course, are absolutely absurd.  I’ve never known a business model where more business was a bad thing.  Well, unless you want to continue to allow the health care industry to pick and choose who they want to treat, often denying coverage to people who actually need it.  Which is something “Obamacare” now prevents from happening.  I’m sure the health industry would love to only give coverage to healthy people who never require treatment and deny everyone else.  Talk about a solid business model—for them.

Actually, many Republicans have said they support the fact that Americans with pre-existing conditions can no longer be denied health insurance.  Hell, many Republicans have said they support many aspects to the Affordable Care Act.  For another example look no further than children being able to stay on their parents’ health insurance longer than before.

There have been numerous polls that show even conservative voters like the provisions in “Obamacare” when broken up individually.  They just don’t care for the law when presented in its entirety and almost always fiercely oppose the individual mandate.

But when it comes down to it, the main Republican argument I hear against “Obamacare” almost always ties into the mandate in some way.

I will admit, the government telling you that you must purchase insurance is kind of a hard pill to swallow.  I get that.

However, for “Obamacare” to work and Americans with pre-existing conditions to continue to get coverage (many of whom are children), the mandate is essential.

See, insurance as an industry — be it auto, renter’s or whichever — is predicated on the idea of millions of people paying into a large pool of money to lessen costs should something tragic happen like a break in, car accident or whatever the insurance aims to cover.  If you don’t have insurance, you don’t get the benefit of coverage.

However, when it comes to health care, those without insurance can simply walk into an emergency room and get treatment.  Granted, this isn’t the traditional form of “health coverage” we’re talking about when someone has health insurance, but it is a means for which people without insurance can receive treatment.

But the catch is, much of this treatment is never paid for.  In fact, many people visit the emergency room knowing they’ll never have a way to pay for the treatment they’ll receive.  And guess who pays for that?  It sure isn’t the hospitals.  It’s everyone who does pay for insurance or health treatments.  Hospitals simply pass on the losses they experience due to those who use the emergency room for their “insurance” to everyone else who does pay.  So, like it or not, when you’re paying for insurance—you’re always paying a part for another person’s health care coverage.

Because that’s what insurance is to begin with.  It goes back to that “pool of money” paid in by millions of people.  Insurance as a service is predicated on the fact that most people will end up paying in more to their policies than they ever receive.  Your rates and premiums are always a reflection not just of your habits, but the habits of those who are considered “higher risk individuals.”

Take for instance auto insurance.  Granted, the argument conservatives will make is that we don’t have to drive, therefore only those who choose to drive are required to purchase car insurance.  And that’s true.  But what’s also true is the vast majority of Americans do drive, therefore that argument is essentially invalid.

Now, imagine for a moment if auto insurance wasn’t required in order to drive.  How many fewer Americans would actually have insurance?  Hell, as it stands now, millions of Americans still continue to drive without liability insurance.  Why do you think insurance companies offer uninsured motorists insurance?  That specific coverage is meant to protect you against an accident with someone who’s breaking the law.

But let’s say auto insurance wasn’t mandated in order to drive.  What would happen then?  Well, it’s pretty simple.  Millions of Americans would only obtain auto insurance after they experienced some kind of “auto tragedy.”  Then, whatever insurance company they decided to seek coverage from, would end up paying out thousands to an individual based on that individual paying a fraction of what they were receiving.  If this were allowed to happen, auto insurance companies would do what health insurance companies currently do.  They’d simply jack up the rates for those who do pay for insurance to cover the losses experienced by those who simply choose to “insurance hop” whenever something comes up and they decide they need coverage.  After all, when we pay auto insurance we’re already paying more for the bad driving habits of others.  Imagine if people were allowed to get auto insurance after they had an auto accident?

This is why it’s vital for auto insurance to be “mandated” for any individual who would step behind the wheel of a vehicle.

It’s the same concept for health insurance.  If we’re going to treat “higher risk” individuals who were unfortunately born with some kind of pre-existing condition, our laws must mandate that every American obtain some form of health insurance.  That law must then also require that the insurance purchased actually provides real coverage, not just the illusion of coverage.  Which is what you’re seeing in the form of some people losing their old insurance policies.

See, those policies provided next to no coverage.  Sure, they might have given them some coverage, but it wasn’t comprehensive enough to actually protect them (and the rest of us) from something catastrophic happening.  Which is the whole premise behind any kind of insurance to begin with.  It’s paying for something with the hope that nothing bad will happen, but it’s “peace of mind” to know that if something horrible does happen—you’re covered.

So, when Republicans talk about supporting provisions in the Affordable Care Act such as covering those individuals with pre-existing conditions or keeping children on their parents’ insurance longer, while opposing the individual mandate—they’re only proving their ignorance about understanding the nature of insurance.

We can not have a law that says all Americans must be given equal access to health treatment regardless of their health, then say, “But health insurance isn’t mandatory for Americans to have.”

If you want to talk about sky-high premiums, try having a system where people with pre-existing conditions can hop on and off insurance plans, only paying when they need some kind of treatment.  That would be the catalyst to unheard of insurance rates for those who choose to be responsible consumers.

Then, if you choose to scrap the whole law, you’re then advocating a return to a system where people who suffer from some form of pre-existing condition are discriminated against because of something they can’t help.  I’m not talking about someone who chooses to smoke cigarettes and get sick.  I’m talking about an individual born with or acquiring early in life a disease such as diabetes, who had nothing to do with their unfortunate health condition, being subject to a life of fear and discrimination as it relates to their health care.  And that’s just one example of countless diseases and conditions that we’re talking about here.

And I’m sorry, if that’s what you’re advocating, you should be ashamed of yourself.

So, while Republicans stand on a pedestal preaching the horrors of the individual mandate, I only see a group of people who are so lost in their own rhetoric they seem unable to understand that nothing they’re saying makes sense.

Oh, and let’s not forget that the “individual mandate” was originally a Republican idea.  The only reason we have this law in its current form is because Republicans fiercely oppose true universal health care.  You know, something almost every modern country around the world already has.  There would be no “mandate” if we simply ushered our health care industry into the 21st century and had socialized health care.

And don’t tell me about the horrors of government run health care.  Nearly every leading nation around the world, as far as average life expectancy is concerned, has socialized health care.  If socialized health care was so detrimental to the health of human beings, why would people in these countries be living longer lives than Americans?

So, where does the United States rank on that list?  Twenty-seventh.  Between Chile and the Czech Republic—two places ahead of Mexico.  That’s just embarrassing.  So don’t tell me socialized health care is a bad thing.

But until that day happens where we pass true socialized health care — and trust me, that day will come — we’re left with the Affordable Care Act.  A law that requires a mandate that every American purchase insurance for it to work.   And there’s simply no way around it.  If you want Americans with pre-existing conditions to be covered equally like every other American, then there must be a mandate that states every American is required to have health insurance.

A mandate that Republicans continue to relentlessly attack.  Yet, while doing so, only continually prove they don’t know what in the hell they’re talking about.

Image via CagleCartoons.com

Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.

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  • Robert Schiele

    Wasn’t something rather large and already expensive omitted, though? With enactment of the individual mandate, should not the EMTALA not have been repealed?

  • indianjoe3295

    It’s not about the ACA,… or the “mandate”,…or “socialism”. It’s about the fact that if the ACA succeeds in any form,…it spells the end of the Republican party. $$$$ and power,… and WHO has it,….it’s that simple.

    • gemma liar

      I was gonna write the exact same thing,,,,U get the credit as U wrote it first. Sadly the ONLY ones who publicly acknowledge this are liberals such as you and I-

      • califcowgirl1955

        Exactly. The real problem is Obama-care. If President Obama is for it, THEY are against it. Doesn’t matter if it is good for America or not.

      • regressive rightwing trash

        Obama found a cure for aids………..now regressive rightwingers are bitching that OBAMA has put thousands of doctors out of work

      • califcowgirl1955

        The sad part is, Tommey even admitted the fact they can not go along with anything the President is for. Now Mitch McConnell is back peddling saying “they” should learn to work together, which translates to the President must give in to our demands
        McConnell is going to be replaced, lets hope the rest get a pick slip to. Doesn’t have to be a Democrat, just a reasonable person.

  • Dan Q. Public

    We should allow all citizens to have the choice of enrolling in a healthcare plan or agreeing to prepay any future healthcare costs when treatment is required. Healthcare providers should be required to deny service to anyone that does not have healthcare or cannot pay before treatment. Under these conditions, we can all have our freedom to participate or not, the general citizenry would not be burdened with the healthcare costs of the opt-outers, and I would expect that very few would be foolish enough to not enroll.

    • Jo Clark

      Your idea has the same fatal flaw we’ve seen a hundred times before. We don’t let people just die. We don’t turn people away, your idea of providers denying someone service if they don’t have enough money is ridiculous.

      You know why auto insurance ended up being mandated? Because there are too many people out there too stupid to be responsible, passing the financial burden to someone else when they get in a wreck. It’s really that simple. Many, many laws are made to protect people from stupid people and to protect the stupid people themselves.

      Health insurance is no different. If someone’s not smart enough to know it’s a necessity, then the govt should step in and make them, to protect taxpayers from having to foot their bill to make you protect yourself. We get the added bonus of competition in the market place now so more people can actually afford it.

      • Dan Q. Public

        I am in total agreement. The comment I made was to hopefully illustrate to some of these ” it’s my right to choose” types that the luxury of opting out is facilitated by the fallback that the rest of society will give them free healthcare in emergencies. I did not mean to imply that health care should be denied to the poor, only to the fools that believe social programs are an imposition on their personal freedoms. Under the ACA the costs of providing health care for those that cannot afford the premiums are covered (as they should be) by subsidies. I am in full support of a single payer system and believe that any flaws in the ACA are the result of trying to appease conservatives and insurance companies.

      • suburbancuurmudgeon

        How about we just round up those against the individual mandate, ship them all to Texas, and then just cut Texas loose?

  • FD Brian

    Getting rid of the individual mandate would be akin to letting people pick and choose what programs they want their tax dollars to be spent on.

  • Robin DeAnne Lowry Seer

    They will never get “IT”….these are the people that are still pissed off about seat belts and mandatory car insurance! And unless they have a person in their family with a serious health issure….they really don’t give two shits about those who do! As evidenced by the “let them die” cheer at a tea party rally! Of course having been lied to ad nauseum by the jokers they insist are the only ones on their side doesn’t help! “MURICA”!

    • suburbancuurmudgeon

      I think most of the people complaining about the individual mandate actually have their own insurance through their employers (including our elected representatives who have insurance courtesy of the American taxpayer). So it’s more a case of “I don’t want my tax dollars going to lazy people,” which is wrong in so many ways.

  • Peter Kelly

    They actually say that the individual mandate is like Nazi Germany.

    #facepalm

  • Kathleen Passalacqua

    The biggest comment I hear is they are angry that their plans must cover women’s birth control. I hear that over and over and over.

  • regressive rightwing trash

    hey religious crybabies,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,when YOUR “GOD” can cure an amptutee come tell me—until then U are a canard

  • Artos

    and the mandate loses its fear in one aspect, i own a car im required to have car insurance or i get fined